Yorkshire Dales inspire award-winning garden designer

Plans are underway to bring a celebration of the Yorkshire Dales to an international audience at this year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.

Chris Myers, an RHS Gold Medal-winning designer, TV presenter and off-grid gardener from Yorkshire, has designed a garden that reflects the changing landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, as well as highlighting the work of Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) – a local charity that works to sustain the landscape, environment, communities and economy of the Dales.

Chris said: “The highlight of any flower show has to be the Show Gardens and I’m so chuffed to be producing one at Chatsworth. The garden is to be a real celebration of the Yorkshire Dales with a meadow of wildflowers, a pretty little converted barn complete with cottage garden adorned with herbaceous perennials, lavender and roses all nestled within the surroundings of a native broadleaved woodland…lovely if I do say so myself! The garden will act as a promotion tool for Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and as ambassador for their Hay Time project I’m really pleased that this is the case.”

Tanya St. Pierre and Chris Myers

Entitled ‘Hay Time in the Dales’, the garden will represent some of the charitable work undertaken by YDMT, including restoring wildflower hay meadows and native broadleaf woodlands, supporting rural heritage skills such as dry-stone walling and encouraging people to appreciate the region’s flora and fauna.

Once a common sight, species-rich hay meadows are now one of the most threatened habitats in Europe. Through the Hay Time project, YDMT is working with farmers and landowners to help re-establish the wildflower meadows, using seed sustainably harvested from species-rich meadows to help re-introduce native wildflowers into nearby meadows that have lost some of their botanical diversity.

The charity is also involved in monitoring and recording bumblebee populations and their foraging habits. Last year’s results showed more bumblebees visiting traditional flower-rich hay meadows than those under intensive modern management, due to the concentration of pollen and nectar-rich flowers such as Clovers, Common Knapweed and Yellow-rattle – all species which YDMT aims to re-stablish in meadows through the Hay Time project, and which will feature in the show garden.

YDMT’s Hay Time officer, Tanya St. Pierre said: “As well as being an ambassador for YDMT, Chris is a skilled plantsman and designer with a passion for the Yorkshire Dales landscape, and we were thrilled when he invited us to be involved in this exciting project. I hope this little taste of the Yorkshire Dales will capture the attention of the judges and the public at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, helping us to highlight the importance of wildflowers – whether in hay meadows, community spaces or private gardens – for bumblebees and other pollinating insects.”

To create the garden, Chris has enlisted the support of two of Britain’s top nurseries, Barcham Trees who are generously supplying native trees for the project, and Johnsons of Whixley who are kindly gifting the remaining plants from their Yorkshire nursery, including many native and nectar-rich species.

Award-winning drystone waller Gordon Simpson from Nidderdale is also giving his time and expertise for free, providing stone and building the cottage that will be central to the design.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s newest show returns to the magnificent 1,000-acre Chatsworth Estate from 6th to 10th June, and is expected to attract around 80,000 visitors.

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